‘It’s the thrill of my life’: Queens man chosen as ‘Chief Fan Officer’ for the New York Rangers with MSG Networks

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Ricky Diffendale has been chosen as the first Pepsi Zero Sugar Chief Fan Officer for the New York Rangers. (Screenshot via video courtesy of MSG Networks)

New York Rangers pride runs through Ricky Diffendale’s veins — which is why he was chosen to be the team’s Pepsi Zero Sugar Chief Fan Officer.

Diffendale, 35, was watching the Rangers take on the Winnipeg Jets when he learned about the Pepsi Zero Sugar Chief Fan Officer position.

“I saw the commercial for it, and I figured, why not?” said Diffendale, who hails from Breezy Point. “I almost immediately filled out the application online, submitted the video and hoped for the best.”

The Pepsi Zero Sugar Chief Fan Officer is a kind full-time paid position within MSG Networks and is part of the ongoing partnership between PepsiCo and MSG Networks. The position was made so the person in the job can be the liaison for New York Rangers fans and provide a unique look into the culture of the New York Rangers organization for fans at Madison Square Garden, in New York and around the world.

Diffendale, who was previously a social studies teacher for junior high school students, has been a Rangers fan “since he could formulate rational thoughts,” he says. It was a few weeks before he heard back from anyone regarding the Pepsi Zero Sugar Chief Fan Officer position.

“The original submission went in — a couple of weeks went by and you start to think, ‘maybe it’s not for me’ or ‘maybe they didn’t like it.’ But then I got the email saying I was a finalist,” said Diffendale. 

Diffendale got called in for the audition at MSG Networks. After a pre-audition interview, Diffendale went before a panel of judges to explain why he was the best person for the job.

“It was almost American Idol-esque,” said Diffendale. “They see how comfortable you are on camera and asked me questions about my Rangers knowledge. I even ended up singing a song during my audition.”

The song, set to the tune of Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” was a tribute to Rangers player Artemi Panarin, and called “Bread Man.”

“The night before the audition I couldn’t sleep, and at around 4 a.m. the song came to me. I knew I had to work it into the audition,” said Diffendale. “The judges loved it. I left that audition thinking, `If this is as far as I get, it was an awesome day and I would’ve been satisfied with that.’ To get the call that I was chosen, it’s the thrill of my life.”

In his new position as Pepsi Zero Sugar Chief Fan Officer, Diffendale will keep Rangers fans up to date on the latest team news. He will post a weekly blog to MSGNetworks.com, act as a guest host of “The MSG 150” segment, and post a weekly video series that is aired live during Rangers’ games. Diffendale will also report live from Rangers’ practices and conduct interviews with players.

Diffendale wants to bring a lot of energy to the position and looks forward to interacting with fans and bringing their ideas to the table.

“There’s nothing better than watching or talking about the Rangers than doing so with other fans,” said Diffendale. “To be the Pepsi Zero Sugar Chief Fan Officer, I get the opportunity to interact with fans in person and on social media. I feel like I’m their inside guy now, so I want to do right by the fans and bring their perspective.”

“I’m very honored that MSG Networks and Pepsi made this position, and I hope I do them proud in it.” Diffendale added.

Take a look at Diffendale’s interview process here: